So, were you asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Bet ya were. I'll also bet that most never saw what was coming either. Neither did I. It took me 50 years to "grow up." A person and a remarkable bit of computer code made it all possible.
There is a saying that many sport coaches share with their teams when trying to motivate them to a higher standard of performance.
There is no "I" in Team.
The obvious meaning that the letter i is not included in the spelling of the word team.
But the broader meaning implied is that one person's skills and accomplishments cannot accomplish nearly as much as an entire team or group of people. That a group of like-minded people can accomplish more than the individual, regardless of how talented or skilled one individual may be. As a younger man, I found that phrase inspirational. As an older man, I see the fallacy of that phrase...riddled with philosophical bullet holes and shallow of meaning in some cases.
That's not to say it's a completely false statement. In the military, the organization and skill of a team is paramount. Not only in accomplishing a given mission, but in keeping you alive or uninjured. In the most harrowing of predicaments, the guy on the right and left of you hold your life in their hands. So yeah, There may be no "I" in team, but never diminish the efforts and accomplishments of one individual. (S)he is capable of shaping history.
It was 4th period in Mr. Kittenger's class. Social studies has been my favorite subject throughout
"Social studies" as an educational class covered a lot of area. In my class, it primarily focused on the impact or influence of groups of people upon society throughout history. That could range from the negotiation of a few beads and baubles (allegedly) traded for what is now greater Manhattan to the nation-wide protests of the Vietnam War and the group dynamics involved between the protesters and those tasked with keeping said protesters under control. I was fascinated with these dynamics, even down to the micro level activity.
Mr. Kittenger's discussion of a particular group that day wasn't what caught my attention. It was the mention of a person, almost in passing; that captured my interest. That interest morphed into obsession and that obsession planted a thought into my mind that would reawaken decades later. I wrote it down, memorized it, and retained it my entire life. At roughly 10:50 on a Thursday morning during early spring in the small farming town of Villa Grove, Illinois, Don Kittenger introduced me to Nikola Tesla.
"If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being, we want to provide more machinery, more power. Power is our mainstay, the primary source of our many-sided energies."
To this day, when I dwell upon that quote from Tesla, it's not Nicola Tesla who comes to mind. It's Don Kittenger. A simple school teacher with a wife, two kids a 1967 Rivera and a love for history and wild mushroom hunting.
And yeah, that thought didn't occur to me for another 15 years. Who knew?
Until they did.
Decades later, sitting in a wheelchair with my head and neck screwed into a halo device, those words with all their implications and possibilities came flying back into my consciousness, slamming together into a coherent, logical pathway that I could walk. A simple question from my 12 year old daughter crystalised the idea based on those words I had memorized so long ago:
"If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being..."
It was in that fleeting moment that the basic idea for Reglue was born. The idea to empower those whose financial disability cordoned off their ability to share in the tsunami of technology that was bearing down upon us. It only made sense, and if I could have wrest my way out of that chair at that moment, I would have begun immediately.
And eventually I did. So yea me! Right? No. Not at all.
From the universe's perspective all I have done accounts for nothing more than a random neutron speeding through the ether. But to those hundreds of kids served by Reglue, maybe, just maybe I was Mr. Kittenger.
Every young person I encounter during an install, I tell them that someone their age will be the first person to walk on Mars, to cure diabetes, to ensure sustainable energy is the only source of energy used. I tell them how important STEM education is to them and how they can one day make a difference.
So when it all comes down to it. All I want to do, all I want to be is a simple school teacher that implants an idea into a young person's consciousness. And I think if we take our own personal inventory, that's probably the most important thing we can do, regardless of method. There are a lot of things I have been in my life, but the one thing that I want to be more than anything...
is a Lodestar.
I just wish Mr. Kissinger was still around. I'd like to tell him about everything he inspired.
So how did you get started with your career in Linux or computer technology in general? I'm conducting an informal survey and your comments would be greatly appreciated.
My thanks to freestock.com for the use of the top graphic in this article